UTEP SELC assists students and faculty struggling with mental health

Graphic+by+Hugo+Hinojosa

Hugo Hinojosa

Graphic by Hugo Hinojosa

Victoria Rivas , Contributor

UTEP’s Student Engagement and Leadership Center (SELC) hosted Mental Health Awareness on April 14, an event focused on providing tips and activities for students or faculty struggling with mental health.  

The discussion is SELC’s last Spring presentation as part of its “This Matters” program, which consisted of discussions surrounding women in activism, coping with grief, and mental health awarenessThe program aims at providing a safe and educational space for participants to foster an atmosphere of education and awareness on campus. 

The event was in collaboration with UTEP’s Healthy Mind, Healthy Life, a program dedicated to understanding mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) among El Paso men and women 18 and older. 

Natalie Arredondo, Healthy Mind, Healthy Life project coordinator, encouraged individuals to view mental health as a continuum.  

“When we move up the continuum, we thrive, we feel content and fulfilled with our lives. When we move down the continuum, we may begin to feel lost, hopeless and begin to question our self-worth,” Arredondo said. “They can lead to depression and anxiety.” 

Mood, personality, psychotic, and eating disorders are all considered mental health disorders but according to Arredondo, depression and anxiety are the most common worldwide. 

Arredondo explained it is essential for individuals to ask for help, whether it means talking to a friend or seeking therapy. 

“Now, I’m not saying that we are all perfect and that we should all keep going up. There is going to be those days where it is just hard. You just have too much work to do, you have too much homework to do, or you have a bunch of deadlines, or your boss is giving you extra work,” Arredondo said. “It’ ok, that is why you need to practice that self-care.” 

Not practicing self-care can affect your physical energy, focus, lead to burnout, and turn into an emotional state of stress. 

“Don’t depend on others to practice self-care,” Arredondo said. “It’s ok to have that time alone, so you can recharge and practice your own self-care.” 

Although it is highly recommended to practice breathing exercises, participants mentioned taking their pets for a walk, reading a book, daily meditation, exercising, going to church, sleeping, and dancing to release daily stress. 

“Tutoring my friends for math makes me feel good because I can help them,” Viviana Morales, UTEP student, said. 

According to Arredondo, stigma is negative attitudes, stereotypes, language, and behaviors towards people with a mental health condition, causing isolation, rejection, bullying, and discrimination. 

Arredondo explained stigma is caused by the lack of knowledge and understanding about mental health illnesses and encouraged participants to avoid using mental health conditions as adjectives. 

“You are never too young to learn about mental health,” Arredondo said. “Everyone has mental health. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, and it is an essential component of your overall health.” 

Healthy Mind, Healthy Life can be reached at [email protected]. The program provides mental health screenings, mental health education, HIV and Hepatitis C testing, and linkage to care for all UTEP students. 

Victoria Rivas may be reached at [email protected]; @VicRivas_18 on Twitter.